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China’s auto import market to increase 20 percent in 2011

BEIJING – China’s automobile import market is expected to grow 20 percent in 2011, with about 800,000 vehicles to be imported, higher than the estimated growth rate of domestic-made vehicles, according to reports released by the China Automobile Trading Co., Ltd. (CATC) on December 26, 2010, auto.people.com reported.

China’s auto market has seen booming growth since 2009 thanks to the government incentive policies, with the imported car market a good barometer of this success. During the January-October period in 2010, China imported 604,000 vehicles, up 132.7 percent year-on-year. Of these vehicles, 522,000 units have been registered, an increase of 91.7 percent compared to the same period in 2009. Registered imported vehicles for the whole year are expected to surpass 650,000 units, up over 80 percent from 2009, the CATC reports said.

CATC attributed the high-speed growth of vehicle imports to the adjustments of China market strategies by multinational automakers. In the first 10 months of 2010, 75,000 imported Benz cars were registered, compared to the 27,000 units of domestic-made Benz cars (not including the Viano) sold in the market. BMW distributed 41,000 locally made vehicles and a total of 57,000 units of imported BMW vehicles were registered in 2010.

Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus took the top three spots in the list of China’s top 10 imported car brands by sales during January and October. The market share of the Mercedes-Benz and Lexus brands rose by 2.4 and 2.8 percent respectively, and the top 10 brands took a combined market share of 70.7 percent in the period, according to the reports.

For SUVs, the imports accounted for 57.3 percent of the whole imported car market, a 2 percentage points increase compared with the year 2009. These imports occupied a market share of exceeding 60 percent in September and October, maintaining SUV’s leading position in the imported car market. The lack of med- and high-end home-made SUVs is one of the major reasons for the hot selling of imported SUVs, CATC said in the reports.

In the first 10 months of 2010, SUVs with displacement of 1.5L-4.0L and cars with displacement of 1.5L-3.0L accounted for 80.4 percent of the market share, with 1.5L-2.5L SUVs and cars occupying 41.2 percent. Compact SUVs, mid-sized SUVs and mid-sized cars grabbed a market share of 66.3 pecent, indicating a customer favor of comparatively smaller-displacement vehicles

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